25 February 2004

--When bigger becomes a problem

There is a prevailing notion that fatter children are cuter and great to look at. While that may be true, it is not healthy.

While we get happy when our children eat plenty of food and drink lots of sodas and colas, we may actually be pushing them into a state of obesity never seen before in history.

From the ARCHIVES OF DISEASE IN CHILDHOOD comes this alarming study that kids nowadays are bigger than kids were twenty years ago. Among the significant findings:

- Waist circumferences were "significantly larger" than in 1996 and had increased by an average 4cm over 20 years. Waist size is seen as an important indicator because of the link between abnormal girth in adulthood and increased risk of heart disease.

- In 1996 one in ten boys and one in eight girls were overweight; by 2001 one in seven boys and one in six girls were overweight. Girls are getting fatter quicker than boys, and this is proof of the alarming growth in child obesity.

While this study was done in the UK, the growing obesity trend has also been observed in the US.

In the Philippines, one has only to look around at the irony of our so-called "poor nation." There are so many fat Filipino kids roaming around. The sad part is, rather than be alarmed, their parents are happy and feed them even more.

It must be noted that obesity predisposes people to serious medical conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus.

There is also now a condition called a "pre-diabetic state," a stage in which high blood sugar slowly causes both reversible and irreversible target organ deterioration (kidneys, eyes, nerves).

Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes used to be predominantly adult conditions.

If children of today are continously fed food wrongly quantified and qualified, we might soon see the said serious medical conditions setting in very early.

Stroke and diabetic deaths among adolescents and those in their 20s-30s are coming and no longer a far-fetched reality.

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